Metro Weekly

The Gymnast

Reel Affirmations 2006

Review by Kristina Campbell

Rating: starstarstarstar (4 out of 5)

Friday, 10/20/2006, 7:00 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Lincoln Theatre

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL meets 1995’s lesbian offering When Night Is Falling in the artistic and visually compelling The Gymnast. Jane (Dreya Weber) is a 43-year-old beefy former gymnast grappling with aging issues — both in her long-delayed desire to have a baby and in society’s perception of her. Her love for gymnastics is rekindled and taken to new heights when she is recruited for an aerial performance. While training, she meets the lovely Serena (Addie Yungmee), a closeted lesbian to whom the heterosexually married Jane is immediately attracted.

In the shared experience of the physical and emotional intensity of their training, the two women grow closer and a relationship develops, pushing Jane to question her marriage to her rather cold husband David (David De Simone, who died early this year and in whose memory the film is dedicated). While the physical feats shown in the film are stunning, actress Weber’s overly developed upper body is at times a distraction. When she dresses up and dons cosmetics to attend an event, she looks like a beefy dyke in formalwear and make-up, not a prettied-up straight former athlete.

Meanwhile, the indisputably feminine Yungmee’s occasional verbal outbursts grate on the nerves a bit, but are also sometimes funny — when a photographer keeps nudging her to open her eyes wider she yells in exasperation, ”I’m Asian, you idiot!” Similarly, Jane reunites with an old gymnastics friend, Denise (Allison Mackie), whose character traits are alternately annoying and amusing, but whose bisexuality and related prodding are pivotal to Jane reaching the point of making a move on Serena. The Gymnast has its vexing moments, but is ultimately sharp and entertaining. — KC

The Gymnast